Shawn Lonsdale, a vocal Scientology critic who both directed his own anti-church documentary and appeared in a BBC Panorama documentary titled Scientology And Me, was found dead in his home over the weekend in an apparent suicide, according to the St. Petersburg Times.
While authorities do not suspect foul play, the same cannot be said of the Internet message board posters who are alleging that church members harassed Lonsdale into committing suicide—if they didn't actually directly off the guy and make it look like a suicide. "This is a little TOO suspicious. Coincides with our attacks?" writes one Anonymous poster, noting the proximity of Lonsdale's death to the recent spate of public anti-Scientology protests. Over at the Times' website, accusations are more direct: "An apparent suicide? Maybe it was staged to look like a suicide. Has anyone noticed how many Off-Duty Officers work for Scientology! These will be the same officers investigating this Suicide???? An investigation with Impartiality? Justice Denied?"
Lonsdale's history with the church is curious. Unlike most anti-Scientology crusaders, he was never actually a member, and had no direct involvement in the church's operations. After a documentary he cobbled together with footage of Scientology buildings, church staffers, and verbal confrontations with Scientologists was aired on local cable TV in 2006, a private investigator hired by the church revealed that Lonsdale had two misdemeanor convictions related to public sex with men on his record. Another poster on the Times' website claims that the church plastered the downtown Clearwater area with posters of Lonsdale's face and social security number.